MMA is one of the world’s fastest-growing sports. The popularity of fight leagues such as the UFC has given rise to some of combats sports most recognizable superstars like “The Notorious” Conor McGregor”.
Does the thought of climbing into the cage for a competitive fight excite you? Here is a brief guide to what you need to know to get involved with the sport.
The Evolution of MMA
Japan was the first country to conduct mixed martial arts competition. Leaders of the martial arts community wanted to pit fighters of different disciplines against each other in “no-holds-barred” competitions. Pride was the first Japanese fight organization to experience international success. The league invited international competitors from around the globe to fight live in front of audiences of thousands. Fighters like Quinten “Rampage” Jackson became household names in the combat sports community.
With Pride losing traction in Japan, a new fight organization stepped in to take the reins. In November 1993, the Gracie family founded the Ultimate fighting championship (UFC) with help from Art Davie and John Milius. The organization had the same primary goal as Pride, to discover the most effective form of martial arts in a combat situation between two trained opponents.
The Gracie’s selected their family champion, Royce, to be the representative for Gracie Jiu-jitsu at the first UFC tournament. Royce swept the field, dominating all of his opponents. In some of the fights, Gracie faced skilled opponents that outweighed him by more than 100 pounds, but this didn’t stop him. He ran through everyone, choking all of them to submission to win the first UFC title.
Today, the UFC hosts events in countries all around the globe. Its superstars are combat sports icons and the best MMA competitors in the world. Chairman and CEO Lorenzo Fertittathe authorized the sale of the UFC in 2016. The organization sold for the hefty sum of $4 billion in 2016 to William Morris Endeavor, making it the most expensive acquisition in the history of professional sports.
Getting started in MMA – Finding a Gym That’s Right for You
The rapid growth of MMA has resulted in MMA schools popping up all over the world. Your town likely has a few gyms to choose from, so how do you select the right one for your training? Selecting the right school requires research before you sign up for a beginner class.
Research the qualifications and achievements of the head instructors and top pupils of any school you are interested in joining. Once you have a prospective school lined up, call in and arrange an interview with the head instructor. Ask the instructor details about class times, fees and other requirements for joining their gym.
After your conversation you should stick around to watch a beginner class.
During the practice session, watch the actions of the students and the instructors. Students should be respectful toward one another and their instructors. Immediately leave if you notice any overly-aggressive behavior among students or disengaged instructors.
You may need to visit a few prospective schools before you find the one that’s right for you. If you select the right training environment, then you can expect to develop a life-long relationship with the other students and instructors at your gym.
Some MMA schools may lack in some aspects of MMA. For example, a school may not have qualified jiu-jitsu instructors. In this case, you will have to outsource your jiu-jitsu training to another gym that specializes in the martial art.
Taking extra classes with Thai boxing coaches or wrestling teams will help you refine all areas of your MMA skillset.
Essential Equipment for MMA Training
You won’t need much equipment to get started with MMA. A pair of shorts and a rash vest is ideal for practicing drills and grappling in the cage. A cup to protect your privates and a mouth guard is vital protective equipment for practicing MMA. 10oz boxing gloves and 4oz MMA gloves, along with a good set of wraps will protect your hands during training. Finish off your gear bag with a head-gear, shin guards, and mitts for sparring.
Your gym should have some weight training and cardio equipment to help you gain strength and endurance. The requirement is not a necessity, as you can always join another fitness center for access to this equipment.
Master Your Diet and Recovery
Regular MMA training takes its toll on your body. If you want to train hard, then you need to prioritize recovery from the effects of intense practice sessions. It’s critical to eat a nutrient-dense diet with enough calories to help your body sustain energy levels during workouts.
What you do in the kitchen will determine how well you perform and recover. Speak to a personal nutritionist about building you a customized diet plan to meet your training demands. Working with a professional will allow you to benefit from their experience. When it comes time to cut weight for your first fight, nutritional advice from a qualified professional will be critical to ensure you make weight.
Handling Your First Competitive Fight
Stepping into the cage for the first time will be a mixture of excitement and fear. At this stage, you will be proficient in your skill set and ready to test your abilities against a worthy opponent. Remember to manage your energy and stay calm. The extra adrenaline produced before the fight as you warm up and walk-out can impair your performance if you don’t handle it correctly. Rely on your coaches to support you in the hours before your fight.
Win or lose, you will gain experience. Learn from your mistakes and analyze post-fight footage to keep improving your game.
The Power of Persistence
Great fighters were made, not born. Don’t expect to become the next Jon Jones unless you are naturally gifted. However, with time, patience, and lots of practice, you could become a proficient and successful MMA competitor.